Isla Mujeres, Hacienda Mundaca – Slaves, Pirates and Unrequited Love

The story of pirate and slave trader Fermin Mundaca is a fascinating one. A Spaniard of educated background, Fermin decided to try his hand at slave trading, first bringing slaves from the West Coast of Africa to Cuba and Antilla to work the sugarcane plantations and mines, and then Mayan captives from the Yucatan peninsula. In 1858 the British Navy started cracking down on the slave trade and Fermin decided it was time to retire. He purchased near half of Isla Mujeres, the Island of the Women. So called because of female idols found at Mayan Ruins.
Fermin fell in love with a local Mayan women, Prisca Gomez. Unfortunately Prisca was not in love with Fermin, who was 37 years her senior. He believed he could win her love by building the grandest Hacienda and gardens, stone archways and seats, sundials and flower beds. He dedicated all to Prisca, who he called ‘the brunette’ ( La Triguena) Fermin destroyed local Mayan Temples to build his monuments of love, and used Mayan Slaves to do the work. You can understand that as a Mayan, Prisca was not impressed with his grand gestures. She married a local Mayan man and Fermin was left heart broken. He became a recluse, letting all his workers go, having only two male servants. He let the gardens and the animals turn to ruin. He bought a grave site in the local cemetery and dated the tombstone 1877. He wrote a message on his tomb, “As you are now, I was. As I am, you will be” Fermin could not stand seeing the growing family of his unrequited love, so left for Merida in 1880, where he died only weeks later.

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